Free the El Hiblu 3 !

Collective action: open letter to Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg

On 28 September 2022, the 3.5 year anniversary of the arrival of the El Hiblu 1 in Malta, Migreurop joins the "Free the El Hiblu 3" campaign and co-signs the open letter addressed to Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg to request that the Maltese authorities drop all charges against Abdalla, Amara and Kader.

Dear Attorney General Dr Victoria Buttigieg,

On 28 March 2019, the merchant vessel El Hiblu 1 arrived in Malta. Three teenagers were arrested and accused of having committed multiple crimes, including acts of terrorism, threatening a crew and hijacking a ship. Amara, Kader, and Abdalla – aged 15,16, and 19 at the time – were imprisoned for almost eight months before being released on bail in November 2019.

In the days prior to their arrival in Malta, they had helped to defuse a volatile situation at sea. Together with 105 other people, they were rescued by the crew of an oil tanker, the El Hiblu 1, which attempted to return them to Libya. When the migrants recognised the Libyan shore, they protested, some saying they would rather throw themselves overboard than return to the country they had fled. Abdalla, Amara, and Kader intervened and calmed the situation. They acted as translators and mediators between scared passengers and a scared crew.

Since they were released on bail, Abdalla, Amara, and Kader, known collectively as the El Hiblu 3, have had to register at the police station every day and attend monthly hearings in the Maltese law courts. At these hearings, police and military officials, as well as the crew members of the merchant vessel were promptly given the opportunity to testify. Yet, it took the Maltese prosecution two years to ask any of the rescued witnesses to testify. These critical testimonies have recently confirmed what we knew: Abdalla, Amara, and Kader did not commit any crimes!

As the El Hiblu 3 pre-trial hearings come to a close, the Attorney General must now decide which charges to bring against the three young men. We thus reiterate our demand that all charges be dropped and the trial be dismissed immediately.

Instead of being prosecuted, the El Hiblu 3 should be celebrated for their actions in preventing the return of 108 people to Libya.

The signatories below – a wide spectrum of organisations and individuals – are convinced that the imprisonment and prosecution of the El Hiblu 3 constitute a deep injustice. We call on the Attorney General to end the uncertainty of the three young men. It is high time to drop the charges.

Resisting illegal push-backs to Libya is not a crime! Stop this injustice! Dismiss the trial in Malta immediately! Free the El Hiblu 3!